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Throwing up Blood

Updated on December 19, 2013

The forceful ejection of stomach contents via the mouth and occasionally through the nose is referred to as vomiting. The medical term for this situation is emesis. In lay man’s language, vomiting is referred to as ‘throwing up.’ Vomiting can be a symptom of a wide range of diseases. It is therefore essential to consult a doctor for effective diagnosis and relevant treatment, if needed. It is all the more vital to seek medical attention if a person is throwing up blood. The condition of throwing up blood is medically known as hematemesis.

When an individual vomits substantial quantities of blood, only then the condition is called throwing up blood or hematemesis. Tiny flecks or streaks of bloody material that one may cough up or spit out is typically not considered as throwing up blood.

Throwing up blood can be caused due to blood that is swallowed, often via forceful coughing or a nosebleed. However, true types of throwing up blood is a far more severe condition that needs urgent medical care. One of the most common causes of throwing up blood is bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, i.e. the esophagus, mouth, top part of the small intestine, and the stomach, which is usually due to ruptured blood vessels or peptic ulcers.

In most cases, vomiting blood generally indicates the presence of a life-threatening underlying condition requiring emergency care. People who throw up blood after drinking, or feel dizzy while walking or standing along with shallow rapid respiration must immediately consult a doctor.

Causes of Throwing up Blood

Some of the causes of throwing up blood and its associated symptoms are listed below:

  • Liver cirrhosis: Also referred to as hepatic fibrosis, liver cirrhosis is a disorder that leads to scarring of the liver. It can be caused due to some prolonged underlying disease or because of some liver injury. A scarred liver is generally not able to carry out all its functions as efficiently as a normal liver. It is unable to properly clean blood, produce proteins, store vitamins, or aid in immune system functions. In addition to throwing up blood, liver cirrhosis may result in varied other symptoms such as high blood pressure in the vein that carries blood to the liver, easy bruising, and enlargement of the veins in liver and stomach. It is vital to treat hepatic fibrosis on time, else it can progress to liver cancer.
  • Acute liver failure: It is one of the primary causes of throwing up blood. Acute liver failure is a rare medical disorder that is characterized by rapid worsening of the crucial liver functions. In normal instances, damage to the liver occurs over a span of several months or years. However, with regards to acute liver failure the liver experiences extensive damage in just two to three days. This liver anomaly more often affects young children as opposed to adults. If young children elicit throwing up blood, then it can possibly indicate acute liver failure. Parents must immediately seek medical attention in all such cases.
  • Duodenitis: The first section of the small intestine is known as the duodenum. Duodenitis is a condition marked by inflammation of the duodenum. The condition can be chronic as well as acute. Individuals suffering from duodenitis may elicit severe discomfort. Additionally, patients may experience varied other symptoms such as bleeding in the intestines, throwing up blood, stomach pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. Duodenitis may arise due to elevated irritation of the intestinal wall linings caused due to consumption of medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, etc. Doctors have also found that over production of stomach acids has also led to duodenitis in several instances.
  • Pancreatitis: The pancreas is a gland situated near the duodenum and behind the stomach. It releases digestive enzymes. Inflammation of the pancreas is referred to as pancreatitis. It is usually caused due to any injury or trauma to the gland, alcohol abuse, malnutrition, underlying genetic conditions, and elevated levels of iron. Pancreatitis may cause a variety of symptoms such as heartburn, bloating, fever, indigestion, nausea, pain in chest, and eventually throwing up blood.
  • Gastritis: Gastritis refers to a class of conditions that are characterized by the common symptom of stomach lining inflammation. It typically arises due to prolonged use of pain killer medications, bacterial infection, injury, alcohol abuse, etc. Gastritis is usually accompanied by different symptoms like abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, and nausea, etc. in addition to throwing up blood. Prompt and correct treatment of the condition results in rapid easement of the associated symptoms.

Treatment of Throwing up Blood

Individuals who experience throwing up blood must immediately visit a doctor for correct diagnosis of the underlying condition. After identification of the causal disorder, doctors will treat it as per standard treatment procedures.

In instances of elevated levels of throwing up blood, doctors may also intravenously administer fluids, and/or go for blood transfusion. Surgery may also be required to treat some underlying diseases.

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